Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Going local in the Southern Caribbean

  • Print

Once I decided on a Christmas cruise, I was determined to soak up the "local" experience on the ports I'd be visiting.

Long before leaving, I was deep into researching the right cruise. I hit the jackpot -- Celebrity Cruises' 14-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on the Eclipse, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Oranjestad, Aruba, with stops in Curaçao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and Haiti. Here are some of the highlights.

Willemstad, both Curaçao's capital and main port, is easy to navigate on foot. The architecture is smaller, pastel-coloured buildings that provide a warmth to the city. Legend has it the buildings were white but that gave the governor migraines, so he ordered the palette of colours... it's unclear if he owned the island's only paint store.

Grenada is the "spice island" and I met a most interesting driver, Ezekiel Jones. Known simply as Eze, he drove me around the island for five hours, missing pedestrians and vehicles by inches while briefing me on Grenada's history -- nutmeg and cocoa are the biggest crops. Grand Anse Beach, about two kilometres of beautiful white sand, was on his list and close to the port. Also on Eze's list was driving by his house and meeting two of his seven children.

From the port at St. George's, the landscape climbs quickly and soon we were at the River Antoine Rum Distillery, a historic old mill powered by a water wheel that made pure organic rum, boiled by giant furnaces like you might find in an old steel mill.

A jigger of the guide's private stash trickled from my throat to my shoes for an hour, as adrenalin and pain flooded my face. Eze just laughed. Don't look for the brand in a liquor store at home -- all they make is sold on the island.

At Grenada's Belmont Estate cocoa plantation, I was walked through the process of turning cocoa pods into a product ready for chocolate. That included a barefoot walk to spread the beans drying in the hot sun.

In St. Maarten, ships dock in Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side of this island. So to avoid the crowds, I made a beeline to Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island, Saint Martin.

In Marigot, my guide -- so to speak -- was author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. Nine years ago, he wrote about a small outdoor family restaurant called Rosemary's, located close to the outdoor market. He loved the food (and I did too) and you'll find his review inside the menu. The Creole chicken and ribs with plantain and spicy rice were superb.

My Barbados itinerary was organized by Marilyn Soper, former manager of the Hilton Barbados who is now retired in Vancouver. Topping her list was the Bridgetown fish market, where I listened to Bajan chatter and admired the skills required to prepare every conceivable kind of fish.

While many restaurants make "pudding and souse" on Saturdays, Marilyn claimed the best one was an hour away in Lemon Arbour, a suburban restaurant and bar. Pudding is made from seasoned sweet potato and the souse is lime-pickled pig, traditionally from parts such as the feet, tail and ears, but Lemon Arbour offers a lean souse made from lean pieces of pork.

Nothing fancy at this eatery: plastic container with matching fork, and a view of hills and fields. One picnic table was marked "reserved" -- for locals I assume. But the vehicles lined up to take away anywhere from two to a dozen containers told the tail, uh, tale.

Marilyn's final recommendation was Bush Bar -- not far from where the Eclipse docked -- a hangout for local businessmen, politicians and workers who come to drink and debate every conceivable topic, starting with politics.

In all, it was just another "locals" day on the cruise.

 

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2014

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2014 E7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google